Image ©John Branch for the Rivard Report, 2016.

More than 177 people fly from San Antonio to Washington, D.C. and back every day, according to Jeff Coyle, director of Government and Public Affairs Department.

The City of San Antonio has made the nonstop flight to D.C. one of its biggest priorities in the forthcoming Congressional session. Other federal priorities include increasing military protection, expanding the military footprint, and transportation funding. The new session begins Jan. 3, 2017 and extends through Jan. 3, 2019.

Nonstop Flight to D.C. Among City’s Top Priorities

Even though the nonstop flight to D.C. would bolster economic ties between both areas, increase business and tourism growth, and make it easier for military personnel to travel with more ease, getting the flight is easier said than done.

Because of the “slot” and “perimeter” rules in the D.C. area designed to limit the number of aircrafts that fly into the airport, the decision lies with the U.S. Congress. There is opportunity for Congress to consider exemptions to the perimeter rule because the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization was extended to Sept. 30, 2017. This gives Congress during the 115th session time to consider specific issues in the FAA bill, which includes slot and perimeter rules.

In addition to obvious demand for the flight, Coyle believes that the military presence in the city is an important factor that might sway Congress to make an exception for San Antonio.

But even if permission for the flight is granted, an airline must commit to provide the route. On Wednesday, after City Council was briefed on the proposed Federal Legislative Program for the 115th Congress, Coyle told the Rivard Report that airlines are well aware of the demand.

“A number of carriers that already service San Antonio have an interest, and we continue to talk to them,” he said. “If an airline sees demand for the route, they’ll offer it. Air Canada saw a demand for a Toronto nonstop and so they added it.”

City Council will vote to approve the Federal Legislative Program on Jan. 12, 2017.

John Branch

Cartoonist John Branch has commented on San Antonio and Texas politics for decades; his work is syndicated nationally by King Features.